Oh, What A Circus! Happy Birthday, Keep the Heid

The primary emotion of anger can be overwhelming and especially in young people who are still developing their emotional intelligence. In 2016, SCCR developed a resource that explored the science of 'flipping your lid' - and this week we're marking its anniversary.

Aristotle once said, ‘Anybody can become angry, that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.’

Anger and its management are at the heart of our psychoeducational resource Keep The Heid, which is celebrating an anniversary this week. SCCR launched Keep The Heid on Wednesday 17 February 2016 at the annual SCVO Gathering event to an audience made up from Scotland’s education, health and social care sectors as well as other voluntary and third sector organisations.

Why the focus on anger? Then as now the leading cause behind youth homelessness in Scotland was relationship breakdown – with anger, and the inability to master it, one of the chief drivers leading to situations which end with young people leaving home.

The primary emotion of anger can be overwhelming, especially in young people who are still developing their emotional intelligence and the executive functioning of their brain.

The science behind the quiz is inspired by Dr Dan Siegel. According to his ‘Flipping Your Lid’ theory, the thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex) which processes perception and logical reasoning regulates the emotional brain (brain stem and limbic area). When your buttons are pushed, the connections between the thinking and emotional brains start to go awry, and if these become completely disconnected we flip our lids and lose control.

So, we had a cause and we had the science – now we needed a really good metaphor to sell Keep the Heid. Which is where circuses came in.

Life can be a bit like a circus, can’t it? It can be a little chaotic. You never know what's around the corner and it can take its toll, especially on relationships. It can feel like a bit of a high wire balancing act ...and no one wants to fall off the tightrope.

To extend the metaphor – when faced with difficult situations or interactions are you a contortionist who is balanced and measured? Or a human cannonball flying out of control? Or are you maybe more of a lion tamer, acrobat or clown.

At the heart of Keep The Heid online resource was an interactive quiz developed in partnership with Dr Sara Watkin. Through a series of questions, which you can still try on our website, the quiz unveils what circus character you are most like at any particular time. It then challenges users to take the quiz again and encourages a true understanding of how our brain works when under pressure – before assisting with what can be done to stop the downward spiral.

Once a young person – or, indeed, anyone – gets to the end of the quiz, he or she should be able to answer positively: when things explode, what’s more important: being ‘right’ or ‘rescuing the relationship’?

So, mark the eighth anniversary of Keep The Heid with us this week, with blogs, videos and resources shared via social media. And remember, this is but part of a larger anniversary that we’re marking in March, ten years since the SCCR launched. Keep watching our socials for more information on that front.

Keep the Heid can be found and worked through here.